No: 2

Winter 2001

Ripped Off!

by Andrew Jackson
Thousands of fake jobs were created by a Job Network provider to rort employment funding from the Federal Government. Leonie Green and Associates (LGA) "employed" people for 15 hours and paid them $150 to fill out bodgie employment surveys, but the company then pocketed $400 as a reward for finding them a job!

Leonie Green has shamelessly admitted she has "employed" 2300 people in this way, netting $370,000 for her effort.

While $150 for an unemployed person is better than nothing, the amount of profit being made out of this scam is disgraceful.

Worse still, it appears that Minster for Employment Services, Mal Brough knew of the scheme and had no objections to it.

The reason that some Job Network providers have set up this fraudulent activity is because the Government pays them $400 for each "job" they find that lasts at least 15 hours.

In this scam, the jobseeker was paid only $10 an hour, and could do the work at home. Under current legislation, there is not limit to how many jobs can be "created" in this way.

Australia used to have a government-run, non-profit employment service called the CES.

When John Howard's Government closed the CES network several years ago, they said it was because private companies would better serve the needs of the unemployed.

Financial incentives paid to those companies for each job they found would be a great motivation for them to find work for people, we were told.

The reality of the situation is that these companies are making a fortune, while the number of unemployed continues to grow by the month.

It also means that when the company's contract ends they appear to have an excellent record in job placement, so their contract is renewed and they are able to be paid millions more from the public purse.

So do the Networks provide better service?

A recent evaluation of the Job Network scheme said that the new privatised scheme was failing long term, Indigenous, poorly educated, elderly and disabled job seekers.

As Cheryl Kernot said: "Well who the hell is the Job Network helping?"

The report said that all these groups were fairing badly under the system, and that even people targeted for "special assistance" were only 10 per cent more likely to find a job with one of the Network providers.

The Federal Government has failed the unemployed. In the last year alone the official unemployment rate has risen 0.8 per cent, adding over 84,000 to the jobless figures.

But these figures hide the real rate they do not include any person who has worked even just one hour per week. No wonder the Government approves of these scams!

The Government must end the employment contracts, and reinstate the CES. Unemployment is a national crisis to be managed by the Government, and not greedy profit-makers.

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